The Democratic Party Needs a Change in Messaging

Earlier this year, Harvard professor Michael Sandel spoke at the World Economic Forum. I happened to stumble upon his interview this weekend, and ever since watching it I’ve not been able to get it out of my head. During the Q&A, Sandel was asked to give advice to the flailing Democratic Party, which to his mind, has become far too technocratic in their political messaging.

Although the interviewer pressed him to provide bumper sticker policies like “Make America Great Again”, Sandel shrugged off this fascination with abbreviation. “Philosophers are not good at snappy slogans,” he admitted to the audience and then proceeded to show what good philosophers actually do: speak at length. During this fifteen minute back and forth, he presented four political themes which Democrats need to reassess in order to win again.

The first theme he addressed was a need for promoting a sense of national community that was directed towards “a shared common life, restoring public places, public institutions, and class mixing.” Sandel thought Democrats all too often revert to speaking only to urban, elite communities. To take away the conservative movement’s control and manipulation of patriotism, Democrats must develop their inclusive narrative in a way that leads to solidarity, not in a frame designed to end conversations, such as one which frames one side as “progressives” and the other side as deplorable “racists”.

The second theme is one we here at Civic Skunk Works spend a lot of time fretting over: the meaning and dignity of work. “Work is a way of making a living, of generating an income,” Sandel stated, “but is that its only purpose? Or does it confer meaning and identity?” We would argue (and so does Sandel) that Democrats should never, ever think of work as solely an economic concern. We know that “since many of us spend the majority of our waking hours at work, work is a major source of dignity in our lives.” To give the average American worker a sense of self-worth again, Democrats must engender a sense of “recognition and trust, as well as autonomy and self-mastery.”

Thankfully, liberals promote policies that can restore these feelings to the American public. A higher minimum wage and an increased overtime pay threshold strike me as perfect examples of recognizing the importance of all work, while new labor contracts like the Shared Security system would give economic benefits, stability and security to all. That is an effective one-two punch that Democrats should deliver over and over again.

The third theme Sandel elucidated was getting rid of our society’s obsession with meritocracy. “Meritocracy is not an alternative to inequality,” he told the audience, “it is a justification for a certain kind of inequality.” I’m so pleased that he highlighted this, as Americans all too often fall for this myth. A couple of months ago, in fact, I reviewed Thomas Friedman’s latest bookand my biggest criticism came from his faith in hard work and perseverance. I wrote:

Friedman subscribes (a little bit too much) to the myth that life is a meritocracy, where the most adaptable and hard-working win out. In fact, last week when I heard him speak at Seattle Town Hall he remarked, “sometimes no one is to blame but yourself.”

Sandel seems to agree in some ways with my argument. With his finger wagging, he pointed out that Democrats “should shift their emphasis from talking about mobility and perfecting individual opportunity, and instead talk more about solidarity and community and what that means.”

Finally, Sandel’s fourth theme was in relation to inequality and mobility. And in many ways, this connects with his meritocracy theme. He believed that the left needed to think less about mobility and speak about “creating a more equal society where the focus is not on the scramble to the top.” It’s not just economic inequality that Democrats should highlight either. Sandel argued that we need to show how economic inequality is corrosive to our civic life and our public institutions. Unfortunately, he never really developed upon that statement or provided instruction on how to effectively communicate these tensions, which made this theme come off as quite vague.

Nonetheless, I was extremely impressed with his messaging guidance. These broad themes are probably not specific enough (and a little bit too philosophically vague) for today’s focus-grouped Democratic Party. However, if leaders within the DNC listened to Sandel’s prescriptions, the left could offer a much more convincing socio-economic argument to Americans in urban and rural areas.

When It Comes to Economics, Incoming Labor Secretary Andrew Puzder Is a Raging Elitist

“Hello, yes, how many senses of accomplishment do the chili cheese fries cost?”

“Hello, yes, how many senses of accomplishment do the chili cheese fries cost?”

A particularly damning quote from Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder, is making the rounds again. Puzder, in his role as CEO of the Carl’s Jr fast food chain, published an editorial in the Wall Street Journal in 2014 against the idea of raising the overtime threshold:

…Workers who aspire to climb the management ladder strive for the opportunity to move from hourly-wage, crew-level positions to salaried management positions with performance-based incentives. What they lose in overtime pay they gain in the stature and sense of accomplishment that comes from being a salaried manager. This is hardly oppressive. To the contrary, it can be very lucrative for those willing to invest the time and energy, which explains why so many crew employees aspire to be managers.

Of course, we came very close to raising the overtime threshold last year, until an Obama-appointed judge from Texas shot it down and the incoming Trump administration — with Puzder in charge of the Department of Labor — crushed the hope of a lawsuit to save the threshold.

Here at Civic Ventures, we have made no secret of our efforts to promote overtime. Civic Ventures founder Nick Hanauer published a very influential piece in Politico back in 2014 about overtime, and then Hanauer and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich co-authored a piece for the New York Times explaining why overtime was so essential to America’s financial success in the 1950s, and why we sorely need to increase the threshold:

Today, if you’re salaried and earn more than $23,600 dollars a year, you don’t automatically qualify for overtime: That means every extra hour you work, you work free. Under the new proposed rules, everyone earning a salary of $50,440 a year or less would be eligible to collect time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week.

Reich and Hanauer call increasing the overtime threshold “a minimum wage hike for the middle class,” and that’s about right. It ensures either that workers are compensated for their time, or that workers don’t have to work more than 40 hours per week. Either way, the economy benefits because people either have more money to spend in their communities, or more time to be active members of their communities. These are real results that would happen immediately, as soon as the overtime threshold was raised.

But Puzder instead decided to fight policy with platitude. I’m going to repeat what he said because it’s so impossibly dumb that only through repetition can we understand Puzder’s worldview. Again, this is a CEO talking about his own employees: “What they lose in overtime pay they gain in the stature and sense of accomplishment that comes from being a salaried manager.”

You can’t eat a sense of accomplishment. Stature doesn’t pay the rent. It is frustrating that while Trump boosters complain about elitist progressives, a member of Trump’s prospective billionaire’s cabinet — a cabinet that will likely be wealthier than more than a third of all American households combined — is telling American workers that they are not worthy of payment for hours worked. At around the same time Puzder wrote those words, he was earning 291 times more annually than the minimum-wage employees at his restaurant, according to Forbes.

It’s pretty clear that unless he’s visited by three particularly convincing spirits on Christmas Eve, Secretary Puzder isn’t going to entertain raising the overtime threshold. This is because he knows that the money workers could be earning has, in his mind, a higher purpose: it could be funneled directly into his bank account and the bank accounts of people just like him. It’s pretty clear that Puzder believes he deserves the money more than his employees.

See, Puzder considers himself to be a job creator, even when he openly lusts after the idea of automating his restaurants so he doesn’t have to pay human beings to do work. What he doesn’t realize is that if every Puzder out there — every fast food CEO in America — were to automate their restaurants, their profits would plummet, because nobody would make enough money to frequent the restaurants. Robots don’t eat burgers.

No, it’s Puzder’s employees who spend the money that keep his restaurants open. And if he paid his employees what they deserve, they’d likely spend even more money there. But Puzder doesn’t care about details like that. He’s got his, and his friends have theirs, and everyone else? Eh. Puzder says let them eat their sense of accomplishment

Before the New Overtime Rule Kicks In, Walmart Gives Managers a Raise


Daniel Wiessner and Nandita Bose report for Reuters:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc has raised salaries for entry-level managers before a rule change that extends mandatory overtime pay to more than 4 million U.S. workers, in an attempt to shield itself from unpredictable additional costs for salaried employees.

The raise was pretty significant—$45,000 per year to $48,500. And as Wiessner and Bose note, this decision wasn’t made out of the kindness of Walmart’s heart. (For those of you who flunked out of anatomy in college, here’s a tip: Walmart doesn’t have a heart because it’s not a living organism.) Walmart was simply ensuring that their managers were paid above the $47,500 threshold adopted by President Obama’s Department of Labor. That $3,500 raise might sound like a lot, but it’s probably peanuts compared to the overtime Walmart would have to pay its workers under the revised overtime threshold.

And that’s exactly how the overtime rule is supposed to work. The old threshold—an embarrassing $23,660 per year—was so pitifully low that a whole generation of Americans grew up thinking that overtime only existed for unionized employees and government workers. We need an overtime rule that ensures low-wage employers (and yes, even though Walmart pays slightly more than the minimum wage now for starting employees, I’d still count them as a low-wage employers; equivalent managers at Costco earn $60,000 per year and up) pay a living wage to their employees.

Note, too, that once Walmart raises their employees wages above the threshold, they can expect those employees to work over 40 hours a week without additional pay. That’s how it’s supposed to happen. The government isn’t taking away an employers’ ability to expect more work out of their employers, it’s simply asking employers to pay their employees fairly for the time they work.

But before we go crazy high-fiving Walmart for the good things they’ve done for their employees (fact check: Walmart is still not a living organism and so doesn’t have hands to high five) let’s acknowledge something. Walmart could have paid their employees this much before the overtime rule; this extra $3,500 per employee amounts to basically nothing when put up against the $14.7 billion annual profit the company turns.

Really what this proves is that the wages are not set by the almighty invisible hand of the market. Workers are not paid what they’re worth—employers pay their workers as little as they possibly can. This is why unions, where workers collectively barter for higher wages, are a great idea; individual negotiations generally aren’t as fruitful for the employees. These stronger regulations, in tandem with the $15 minimum wage, are providing some of the benefits once provided by unions.

The next time someone tells you workers shouldn’t be paid more than they’re “worth,” that the market sets wages through a simple mechanism of supply and demand, I want you to remember this story. Would Walmart have raised their managers’ pay by over three thousand dollars a year had the Obama Administration not proposed raising the overtime rule? That doesn’t seem likely to me.The invisible hand doesn’t exist. Workers aren’t paid what the market decides they’re worth—they’re paid what employers think they can get away with paying.


Seattle Shouldn’t Be in the Wells Fargo Business


Jonathan Tasini at CNN does the impossible: he succinctly sums up the recent controversy over Wells Fargo’s specious business practices in a single sentence:

Wells Fargo engineered a widespread scam on its customers, opening up as many as 1.5 million bank accounts and hundreds of thousands of credit card accounts that their customers never authorized, partly to inflate the perceived value of the company.

Of course, once you stare at the scam a little more closely, you pick up all sorts of terrible little details. Just today we’ve learned that Wells Fargo has repossessed hundreds of cars owned by US service members, for instance. I bet we haven’t learned the last of the bank’s various acts of malfeasance.

In response to this news, Wells Fargo fired over five thousand ground-level employees. But the bank’s executives are still cashing in: the company’s head of community banking, Carrie Tolstedt, might be walking away from Wells Fargo with 77 million dollars.  And as a thank you for overseeing all this, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf—yes, his real name—could receive a $134.1 million payout.

This is, frankly, disgusting. It’s parasitic behavior. Normal Americans have suffered thanks to the bank’s callous exploitation of trust, and middle-class employees of the bank are the only ones who have been penalized to date. If every bank in America followed Wells Fargo’s nihilistic business model, the economy would collapse. Barring a few trolls and high-paid banking executives, nobody in America thinks Wells Fargo should get away with this kind of scheme.

So why, then, are we rewarding Wells Fargo’s behavior? Why would you keep an account at Wells Fargo, knowing that not only does the company screw over its workers in pursuit of a ballooning profit for a few high-level executives, but that they actively scammed their customers? I understand that inertia is a hell of a drug, and that it’s easier to believe your account is safe from these practices now that Wells Fargo has been publicly shamed than it is to go through the whole process of closing your account and taking your business to a reputable credit union, but the lack of real consequences for Wells Fargo executives indicates that this kind of behavior was not sufficiently discouraged.

Which brings me to my point: did you know that Wells Fargo serves as the City of Seattle’s depository bank? This means that the city’s money—your tax dollars—flows through Wells Fargo. They profit from this relationship. Which also means that Seattle is effectively endorsing Wells Fargo’s behavior by keeping a contract with the bank. I could perhaps understand a trickle-down government like Sam Brownback’s state of Kansas banking with Wells Fargo, but the bank has demonstrated time and again that it is entirely at odds with Seattle’s stated values.

Over the last few years, Seattle has dedicated itself to the belief that we all do better when we all do better. Through laws like the $15 minimum wage and secure scheduling, we have affirmed that we need everyone’s participation to build a robust economy. We have no time in this city for employers who exploit their employees for a quick payout, because we want our economy to be a race to the top, not a race to the bottom. Why, then, would we encourage a bank that knowingly cheats its customers out of money? A bank that has demonstrated time and again that artificially inflated bottom lines are its most important goal? A bank that didn’t pay its employees for time worked? Seattle stands against everything that Wells Fargo has become. So we need to stop rewarding them with Seattle’s money.

David Rolf, president of the local SEIU chapter, and Civic Ventures founder  (and my boss) Nick Hanauer have joined forces to launch a petition demanding that the city of Seattle pull its money from Wells Fargo. I’ve signed it. I suggest you sign it. And I suggest you share it with your friends and family. I know that petitions often seem ineffectual—some wags online tend to mock petition-signers as “armchair activists”—but I’ve talked to a lot of politicians and I can tell you that petitions matter—especially on a city level. A petition signed by many constituents carries real power with elected officials. It’s one of the simplest, most effective ways to make your voice heard.

Of course, signing a petition isn’t the only thing we need to do. Simply entering your information into a form is no replacement for talking to elected officials, keeping up on the news story as it develops, and letting your social circle know why this issue is important. But it is absolutely an important first step. As Seattleites, we already know that our politicians are committed to making the economy more inclusive. They’ve demonstrated this in the way they legislate. But a politician’s attention and resources are finite, and so we have to guide them to the issues that matter to us. This is one of those times. And the best part is that it won’t take much effort on their part; breaking ties with Wells Fargo won’t require months of crafting legislation or many hours of public appearances to debate this issue. They likely already agree with us—we just have to, as the old FDR anecdote goes, make them do it.

This the right thing to do, and it’s a great message for our city to send to the rest of the country. Seattle is open for business, but we won’t reward practices that hurt everyday Americans in order to benefit the wealthy few. Sign the petition to let the world know that our values are the bedrock on which the city is built, and there is no room for compromise.

Americans Overwhelmingly Favor Increasing the Overtime Threshold

Are you ready for an astounding number? Good because here it comes: a new Gallup poll found that 67 percent of all Americans support expanding the overtime rule. Possibly even more astounding? Only 14 percent disapprove of expanding overtime. These are powerful numbers, because they indicate that America knows the overtime threshold has been stagnant for decades, and that the middle class is ready for a raise. The conservative politicians who are fighting overtime are arguing with their own constituents.

But what about secondary education? One of the loudest protesters of the overtime argument has been America’s universities. They argue that if they’re forced to pay their employees overtime for the hours they work over a full 40-hour workweek, they’ll have to raise tuition. Are these predictions correct?

Not according to a new snapshot from the Economic Policy Institute:

The majority of workers at universities, including faculty, graduate student assistants, and adjuncts, are exempt from the overtime rules. Claims that paying more overtime will cause tuition to rise strains credulity because, as the figure [above] shows, as overtime protections eroded over the last 40 years and removed the guarantee of overtime pay from millions of salaried employees, tuition soared. Tuition has risen dramatically without any contribution from overtime regulation.

In fact, tuition has gone up nearly 300 percent in that time. The EPI also cites several other pertinent points, including the fact that the National Institutes of Health, which offers grants to postdoc workers, has pledged to increase its grants to pay for the overtime rule.

Adjusting to change is rarely fun, and it’s true that employers will have to adjust to the overtime rule. But when colleges hold tuition increases over the heads of Americans, knowing full well that skyrocketing tuitions are already a concern for everyone, that feels more like a threat than anything else. And if it is a threat, it’s one that has failed to move nearly 70 percent of Americans. It’s time for colleges to get with the program, and to start figuring out how to incorporate overtime into their pay structure.

If Overtime Isn’t Good for Your Corporate Culture, Maybe You Should Change the Culture

New York Times journalist Noam Scheiber wrote a piece over the weekend about the increasing overtime threshold. Did he profile one of the many fast food managers who will make more money when the new overtime threshold takes hold? Did he chat with a low-wage worker from New Hampshire who suddenly won’t have to work 13 additional hours a week for absolutely no extra money?

Well, no. Instead, he talked with “bosses at publishing houses, glossy magazines, consulting firms, advocacy groups, movie production companies and talent agencies.” For example:

 “You want to bump into the boss at 8 o’clock at night,” said Dan Reynolds, chief executive of Workman Publishing, the publisher of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and many of Sandra Boynton’s children’s books.

“I’m interested in how this will affect that,” Mr. Reynolds said. “It’s more of a cultural thing than anything else.”

Uh huh. Okay. And what does this “cultural thing” entail, exactly?

 Workman’s general manager, Jill Salayi, suggested that because the company could not afford to pay overtime to all newly eligible staff members or raise their salaries over the new threshold, it would have to cut back their hours in many cases.

“Less will be asked of them,” she argued, “which means they will not receive sufficient career development or see timely advancement and/or promotions.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard these same kind of arguments from terrible bosses at terrible jobs when they explained why they couldn’t pay any more even though they were asking me to do more work. They told me that without hard work—by which they meant unpaid work, above and beyond the 40-hours-per-week in the job description—I would never get ahead. This is a classic example of the kind of intimidation tactic that people in power use to keep the masses in line.

By calling it a “cultural thing,” they’re trying to render these long hours without compensation as something outside a transactional basis. Long hours are a value, a moral right that the truly worthy workers have supposedly exerted for years in order to get ahead. Which, you know, might be true to some extent—it’s possible that Salayi and Reynolds worked long hours to get where they are. But if that’s true, it’s also likely true that dozens—maybe hundreds—of other employees have worked long hours without the compensation they were due or the “career development” that Salayi suggests they’ll receive.  “We’ve always done it this way” is one of the worst arguments a person can make; that argument has been used, traditionally, by opponents of women’s suffrage, child labor laws, and many more of America’s greatest shames.

And further, the overtime threshold doesn’t come with any restrictions on “career development”—it’s still perfectly legal to offer promotions to employees who prove themselves to be capable. It just won’t be legal to ask those employees to work long hours without compensation anymore; employers will have to find a newer, less terrible way to test employee loyalty.

And let’s take a look at the people who Scheiber chose to interview for this piece: one of the largest publishers in the United States; “executive director of the Writers Guild of America, East;” high-profile literary agents; “the team that produced ads for both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns;” and a television producer. These employers all argue that working their employees to the bone is part of the culture, yet every one of these organizations operates in fields that can afford to pay entry-level employees enough to pass the overtime threshold. Worse, they’re arguing for paying their employees below the overtime threshold in New York City, one of the most expensive cities in the world, where the Economic Policy Institute’s budget calculator determined that in order to live comfortably the annual income of a household of four would have to fall just shy of $170,000.

Look: I’m not saying that these organizations will not have to make some changes. They almost certainly will. They might have to consolidate two low-paying assistant jobs into one well-compensated assistant title that pays higher than the current threshold. Or if they’re not willing to change their culture, management might not be able to rely on staff working with them until 8 pm every night, which means they might have to get their own coffee or print their own documents when they’re working late. The culture, I guess, will have to change.

One of the more surprising aspects of the article is how flagrantly the employers talk about ignoring the new law.

Andrew Wylie, who runs the [Wylie literary] agency, said he would consider paying time and a half if he asked junior staff members to work overtime, but not if they worked long hours of their own volition. “What am I supposed to do, sit at the door with a stopwatch?” he said. “I’m not going to do that.”

Well, uh, it’s your responsibility as an employer to keep track of how many hours your employees work for you. If you don’t do that, you could be setting yourself up for a nasty lawsuit later on, which would almost certainly be more expensive than just doing the right thing and paying your employees what they’re worth.

The weirdest thing about all this is that many of these employees likely should have been receiving overtime compensation already. The current threshold—$23,660—is just one of the rules by which it’s decided whether employees earn overtime or not. If employees are not managerial—if their jobs don’t fall along the lines of “executive,” “professional,” or “administrative”—they’re likely eligible for overtime already. (Call your lawyers, administrative assistants of the world!) If anything, the new threshold makes classifying which employees are eligible for overtime even easier and more streamlined, so confusion like this won’t happen in the future.

Motivations are important. Of course these employers are arguing against paying their staff less; people in power always want to pay less. But if any Americans can afford to pay their employees what they’re deserved, it’s the employers profiled in Schieber’s piece. That they’re using the “culture” defense to justify paying their employees less than what they’re owed is one of the clearest signs that America’s overtime rules are in serious need of an overhaul. Good thing a change to this culture is finally on the way.

If You Think the New Overtime Rule Is “Entirely Trivial,” You Really Should Get Out More

Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 4.29.58 PM

Our old “friendTim Worstall is back at it on his occasionally almost nearly coherent Forbes blog. This time, he’s talking about the increased overtime threshold. As you may have expected, he thinks paying more overtime is a bad idea. Here Tim is being, if nothing else, consistent; he thinks a minimum wage is a bad idea, after all, so why wouldn’t he be against a policy like overtime that benefits workers?

But the truth about overtime is that Tim just doesn’t care all that much. No, really. He calls the new threshold “entirely trivial.” That’s a direct quote. In fact, he uses the word “trivial” twice to describe the effects of overtime and then he says he’s not even sure the White House estimates of what the overtime raise will pay out—”$1.2 billion a year over the next decade”—are worthy of the word “trivial,” they’re so insignificant. He concludes:

Probably the correct way to think of this is as a nice piece of politics that everyone can have a good shout about rather than a piece of useful economics. Everyone gets to show where they stand with a lot of heat and not much light. Or, of course, that very small tempest in a not very large teapot.

Wow. Tim, here, is a classic example of what happens when someone argues politics on the internet for too long. Everything becomes academic. When you call a policy that will directly improve the lives of 12 and a half million Americans “a nice piece of politics,” you’ve passed a very significant point. When you have your head in the conservative economics bubble for years at a time, apparently, you forget that you’re arguing about real human beings with real lives and you start to think of it as points on a scorecard.

Sure, maybe to our buddy Tim 1.2 billion dollars a year is nothing. But to a retail manager who’s trying to raise two kids on her $470-a-week salary, this threshold means a hell of a lot. It stands for security. With the new overtime rules, our manager will enjoy one of three outcomes: either her boss will keep asking her to work overtime at time-and-a-half so she’ll make more money per paycheck; or her boss will ask her to work only 40 hours per week, giving her the time to look for a second job, start her own business, or spend more time with her children; or her boss will give her a raise above the $47,476 annual threshold and ask her to keep working the same long hours at a much higher rate of pay. Any one of those possibilities results in a better outcome for our retail manager. Now multiply her experience by 12.5 million and spread those people around the country and you start to get a sense of how huge the idea of restoring the overtime threshold really will be for Americans.

How is this not “useful economics,” Tim? My God, what else is economics for, if not broadly improving the lives of more people? Maybe a blogger for Forbes might think of economics as something you blab about on the sidelines while things happen in the real world, but most of us out here understand that economics is about making a difference for everyone. That’s why we’re winning across the country on the $15 minimum wage and overtime while you keep pontificating about how many digits a number can have before it becomes worthy of your attention.

But you know what? Enjoy your dumb little bubble, Tim. You can keep talking on your blog about how 1.2 billion dollars is basically nothing, and how a real economist wouldn’t even bother with that kind of pocket change. In the meantime, real Americans will be earning more money, getting more of their own time back, and enjoying some of the security that Americans used to enjoy. To me, that sounds like the exact opposite of “trivial,” but I guess we can’t all have the high-minded  macro-vision of a Forbes blogger, now can we? And if you keep ceding topics like overtime as unworthy of your haughty attentions, that means progressives can keep winning the battles that matter to real human beings out here in the real world. So by all means, keep wallowing in your ignorance, Tim. It makes things easier for us.

Carl’s Jr. CEO Concern-Trolls Workers Whose Jobs He Wants to Automate

Lost in Space

Danger, Will Robinson: I’m coming for your job!

Writing in an op-ed on Forbes.com, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s CEO Andy Puzder warns about “The Harsh Reality of Regulating Overtime Pay.”

Turning highly sought-after entry level management careers into hourly jobs where employees punch a clock and are compensated for time spent rather than time well spent is hardly an improvement on the path from the working class to the middle class.

“Highly sought-after entry level management careers,” my ass. During my coverage of the fast food strikes in 2013, I heard from a number of fast food workers who turned down “assistant manager” promotions because the extra 50 cents an hour wasn’t worth the extra 20 hours a week of unpaid overtime work. But either way, Puzder’s alleged concern for employee welfare is nothing short of ironic coming from a guy who fondly muses about the idea of replacing all of his workers with robots:

“They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case,” says Puzder of swapping employees for machines.

What a charmer.

The harsh reality is that CEOs like Puzder couldn’t give a shit about the welfare of their employees (let alone the welfare of their franchisees’ employees). “Millennials like not seeing people,” Puzder explained to Business Insider in describing his robotized utopia. So if he could have automated all his workers out of their jobs, he’d already have done so.

But he can’t. So he hasn’t. Likewise, you can be sure that if Puzder could run his restaurants with fewer employees working fewer hours he already would be. So don’t expect to see any overtime-rule-induced mass layoffs at Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s anytime soon.

Of course, it’s not just Puzder wiping away crocodile tears on behalf of the 12.5 million Americans who will soon be forced to endure higher pay for fewer hours at the cold unfeeling hands of government bureaucrats. Paul’s got a rundown of various conservative objections to the new higher overtime threshold, and frankly, they all strike me as rather weird. Most bizarre is the repeated assertion that salaried workers would somehow prefer to go unpaid for their overtime hours rather than suffer the humiliation of having to “punch in” like a lowly hourly prole. “Forcing More Workers to Punch a Clock Isn’t Progress,” cries Koch-funded Carrie Lucas at the National Review.

Oy. Speaking of things I’d like to punch.

Puzder proudly describes himself as a member of the Job Creators Network—a network with close ties to notorious D.C. public relations firm Berman and Company, and from the looks of their landing page, apparently consists of rich old white men concern-trolling on behalf of the young off-white workers they pay poverty wages. (Um, maybe they should’ve focused-grouped their website’s white-man-on-top motif?)

Job Creator's Network

2015 Webby Awards winner for “Most Condescending Landing Page”

But Puzder and his Job Creators Network buddies aren’t really interested in creating jobs at all. Quite the opposite. Like all self-interested businesspeople, they’re focused on minimizing their labor costs as much as possible. And if that means a brave new world of employee-free restaurants, Puzder is eager to embrace the future without an ounce of regret: “I want to try it,” he told Business Insider.

So enough already with this paternalistic bullshit about defending “entry-level” workers from the dangers of higher wages and more benefits. It just isn’t believable. And it never has been.